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New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Vet Nursing Assistant)

New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Vet Nursing Assistant)

Level 5

Do you have previous animal handling experience and the desire to work in a veterinary related field or in a veterinary clinic with companion animals? Take the first step toward a Vet Nursing career with the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology.

A photograph of veterinary nursing students work with a dog at our Palmerston North campus
Quick info

Level: 5

Locations: UCOL Manawatū in Palmerston North

Duration: 1 year, full-time

21 Feb 2022 - 02 Dec 2022
25 Jul 2022 - 30 Jun 2023

Domestic Fees: *
$6671.00Scholarship info

International Fees:*

Additional Fees
Compulsory course costs may apply.

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). The fee shown is for one year of study.

At UCOL you will discover the rich rewards of working with animals. Upon completion of this programme, you will be able to provide assistance to veterinarians and veterinary nurses in a companion animal practice, or continue your studies with the New Zealand Diploma in Vet Nursing Level 6.

As a graduate of this qualification, you will be able to:

  • Work in client business interface of animal related facility;
  • Maintain animal health and husbandry of animals in a veterinary clinic;
  • Care for hospitalized patients;
  • Assist in  surgery preparation and anaesthesia;
  • Assist with routine diagnostic procedures.

 Career & Study Outcomes

Companion animal veterinary nursing related or animal care fields:

  • Veterinary nurse assistant
  • Pet stores and groomers
  • Boarding and training facilities
  • Animal rescue centres
  • Animal recreation businesses
  • Pet sitters and walker
  • Or staircase to further study

To find out more about possible job prospects and salaries, see Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Occupation Outlook for Veterinarians and Veterinary Nurses.

 Course Information

This programme comprises 120 credits.

Applied Safety and Anatomy for Veterinary Nursing Practice (15 Credits)
Learn to be aware of hazards in the workplace, and gain knowledge of animal anatomy and physiology for application in a workplace setting.

Animal Behaviour, Handling and Nutrition (15 Credits)
Gain the knowledge and skills needed in companion animal behaviour, handling and nutrition and to be able to give advice to clients on these aspects of companion animal care.

Health Care of Animals for Veterinary Nursing (15 Credits)
Learn to apply best practice standards to the maintenance of animal health in a veterinary facility.

Introduction to Veterinary Practice (15 Credits)
Learn to apply procedures and practices to the veterinary clinic workplace. 

Welfare and Well-Being for Veterinary Practice (15 Credits)
Learn to identify the needs of the mother and neonates during reproduction in companion animals. Also learn to integrate knowledge of legislation and professional codes of practice into suitable advice, responses and sales methods to clients in a veterinary reception area.

Veterinary Surgical and Diagnostic Services (15 Credits)
Learn to provide a specified range of surgical and diagnostic services in a veterinary clinic.

Anaesthetic Monitoring and Analgesia of Animal Patients (15 Credits)
Develop skills in the monitoring of anaesthesia, and recognizing the analgesia needs of a surgical patient, in a veterinary facility.

Care of Hospitalised Animal Patients (15 Credits)
Develop and apply skills and knowledge in provision of care for a variety of animals in the veterinary clinic.

 Industry Connections

  • Totally Vets
  • Southern Rangitikei Veterinary Services (SRVS)
  • Cahill Animal Hospital
  • Veterinary Nursing Educational Standards Committee (VNESC)
  • NZ Pharmaceuticals (NZP)
  • Gribbles Veterinary
  • Other local Veterinary Clinics

 Learning Facilities

  • An animal housing facility with appropriate cages and housing for daytime housing of all animals used and onsite overnight housing facilities for some companion animals.
  • Practical handling room and mock surgery.
  • Appropriate husbandry equipment such as dog bath, feeding, grooming equipment and restraint devices.
  • A handling facility with an examination/practical room either on or offsite.
  • Access to cats, dogs, rabbits, companion animals and birds
  • Access to the science labs including
  • Microscopes and basic microbiological laboratory equipment.
  • Incubators and water baths.
  • Histology and parasitology specimens, slides and equipment.
  • Diagnostic testing equipment.
  • Anaesthetic and surgical equipment.
  • Access to the Xray labs including working Xray machines, safety equipment, grids, film, radiographic phantoms and viewing equipment

 Domestic Entry Requirements

Applicants under the age of 20:
Applicants must have the equivalent of NCEA Level 2 including 12 Level 2 English credits; 12 Level 1 Maths credits and 12 credits of relevant Science at Level 1.

All applicants are required to:

  • Declare any previous criminal convictions prior to admission being confirmed. Convictions of any offence may not necessarily exclude applicants from enrolment; the decision is at the discretion of the Academic Leader; and
  • Authorise UCOL to obtain a background check from the New Zealand Police Licensing and Vetting Agency; and
  • Complete a health declaration form including tetanus status; and
  • Demonstrate an aptitude for working with the public. This may be shown by a reference from an employer where the applicant has worked with the public, or by a reference from a teacher attesting to social skills.

In addition, applicants are required to demonstrate previous experience working with animals. Either:

  • A minimum of 20 hours observing in a veterinary clinic. 


  • A minimum of 70 hours with businesses such as SPCA, kennels, catteries, pet shops or on a farm.

These may be demonstrated by information in the applicant's Curriculum Vitae, or a separate written attestation.  Upon being contacted by UCOL, a referee must be able to verify this experience.


For more information about NCEA Credits see UCOL's NCEA explained page.

 International Entry Requirements

In addition to the Domestic Entry Requirements, the following applies to international student applicants.

English language proficiency
International student applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS (or equivalent including TOEFL) score of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5. UCOL is a TOEFL iBT testing centre. The English Proficiency test is accepted for English language entry into all UCOL programmes.

Under 20 years of age
For international applicants under 20 years of age who do not hold NCEA, International Academic Qualifications Entry Criteria apply.

 Advice & Guidance

To optimise chances of student success, 100% attendance is required for all practical classes and work placements.  It is also strongly recommended for all theory classes.

In order to fulfil the requirments of the programme, students undertaking the New Zealand Certificate of Animal Technology must successfully complete a work placement, and carry out physical activities within the Animal Room. Applicants must also have no objection to working with animals, dissection of animal body parts, bodily fluids or cadavers.

Recognition of prior learning
Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning, including Cross Credit, Credit Transfer and Assessment of Prior Learning may be made on the Recognition of Prior Learning Form where a student believes all learning outcomes for a course have already been met. Applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the UCOL Academic Statute and other relavant policies and procedures.

Application checklist
It will make the process easier if you prepare the following before you apply:

  • National Student Number (NSN) (If you don't have a NSN, you may request one from NZQA, or you can supply a verified copy of your birth certificate, passport or Whakapapa statement.)
  • Evidence of your highest level of academic achievement (and evidence of prior learning, if applicable)
  • Evidence that you meet the entry requirements of the programme
  • Check if you're eligible for additional support or a scholarship. If you're 19 years or younger, you may be eligible to enrol in one of our free Youth Transition programmes.

Note that you will need to provide any verified documents in person, via post or email (not via the online application form).

Previous Related Programmes

The New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Vet Nursing Assistant) supersedes and takes the best from the following programme of study, which is no longer offered:

- Diploma in Veterinary Nursing

 Additional Costs

Please note that there are additional costs associated with the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Veterinary Nursing Assistant) of approximately $460.00:


  • Navy or black dress trousers (not jeans) $40
  • Covered shoes (eg sneakers) $15


  • Calculator $10
  • Stationery (pens, pencils, ruler, paper, notebook etc) $30

Text books

  • BSAVA: Textbook of Veterinary Nursing (5th edition) by Lane, D.R., Cooper, B.C., and Turner L. (2011) $167.00
  • Dictionary of Veterinary Nursing (4th edition) by Lane, D.R. and Guthrie, S. (2007) $64.00
  • BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Anaesthesia and Analgesia, 3rd Edition (2016), edited by Tanya Duke-Novakovski, Marieke de Vries and Chris Seymour $140.00

Clinical placements
There are few clinical placements within the wider Manawatu so these are reserved for those who have the greatest need. Highest priority for local placement are students who are solo parents of children under the age of five. Not having a car, drivers licence or having work commitments or animals to care for is not sufficient to be considered priority for local placement.  This means that you are very likely to be required undertake your clinical placement outside the wider Manawatu region therefore you will have additional costs relating to your travel and accommodation.

Transport costs will vary according to the mode of transport and may include public transport, private car usage, and carpooling. An example of an approximate cost of petrol in a 1600cc car over 180 kilometres over five days could cost up to $80.00 or more. 

Accommodation fees 
These vary according to the types of accommodation used. Backpackers, Homestays, Student Hostels can be in the range of $50.00 - $120 per night. 


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under the provisions of the Education Act 1989, and Universal College of Learning (UCOL) Trading as Universal College of Learning (UCOL) is accredited to teach it.